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Click to visit VeggieCooking.com NEWS LINK ARCHIVE 2013

News from the Week of 20th to 26th of January 2013

My Life as a Vegetarian - Supporting Linda's Legacy, by Paul McCartney (26 January 2013)
Growing up in Liverpool, I would have thought of a vegetarian as a wimp. We could be a prejudiced bunch at times but I'm not sure people would automatically think like that these days.

I've been a vegetarian for a long time now and over the years I've seen how the attitudes have changed around the world, so I'm not surprised when I see new research that shows more and more people are increasingly adopting 'meat free eating'. Even 20 years ago, it could sometimes be difficult to find vegetarian options in good restaurants. Now it's great to see more and more choice with some brilliant creative dishes in restaurants, cafés and supermarkets. There is definitely now an overall greater acceptance of being vegetarian.

Linda played a massive part in all this. Over the years, she converted many people we knew. Our friends, people we worked with and even some of our roadies on tour. She had a non-aggressive forcefulness about her. We dreamed that one day you could be driving down the motorway and stop off for some food and there would be options for us and now of course there are. When Linda originally brought out her range she was pioneering. It kick-started a revolution of choice in the food industry. Over the years we saw more and more products being added to the market but instead of being a competitive business woman Linda thought this was great. The more the better.

People don't just see it as an issue about kindness to animals. For us, at the time it was about that. One day I had an epiphany. I was taking animals' lives. These days though, people are better educated about their diets and the health benefits of reducing meat intake but also and crucially the environmental impact that meat production has on our planet. The UN actually produced a report in 2006 (Livestock's Long Shadow) outlining how the livestock industry was responsible for more harmful gases than the transport industry - they said the best thing you can do is reduce your meat intake. For this campaign some interesting research was produced, predicting a 50% rise in vegetarianism in the UK and the idea of 'flexitarianism' becoming more widespread as people become educated about the impact of meat eating on health and the environment. It's becoming more and more clear that one of the most effective things any individual can do to help the environment is to eat less meat.
[Read more...]

Adoption at Sea: Sperm Whales Take in Outcast Bottlenose Dolphin (26 January 2013)
A group of sperm whales appear to have taken in a deformed bottlenose dolphin, marine researchers have discovered.

Behavioral ecologists Alexander Wilson and Jens Krause of Berlin's Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries came across the heartwarming scene some 15 to 20 kilometers off the Azores in the North Atlantic, as they observed the dolphin six times while it nuzzled and rubbed members of the group, reports the journal Science.

"It really looked like they had accepted the dolphin for whatever reason. They were being very sociable," Wilson told the journal.

The dolphin's unfortunate deformity -- a spinal disfigurement, likely a birth defect, which gives its back half an "S" shape -- could help explain how it's come to be taken in by the sperm whale group, explains Science.

"Sometimes some individuals can be picked on. It might be that this individual didn't fit in, so to speak, with its original group," Wilson says, speculating that the deformity could have put the animal at a disadvantage among its own kind -- perhaps it had a low social status, or just couldn't keep up with the other dolphins.
[Read more...]

Wisconsin doctors who make mistakes often don't face serious consequences (26 January 2013)
The Wisconsin Medical Examining Board in 2011 reprimanded Almasy, required him to take two classes and fined him $1,200.

"He destroyed my family," said Jaimie Barnes, 18, of Madison, Johnston's daughter. "He should have had his license suspended. I'm baffled he didn't get a higher punishment to fit the crime."

But the medical board's reprimand of Almasy is typical, a State Journal analysis found. The newspaper reviewed all 218 cases leading to medical board discipline from 2010 to 2012, along with dozens of cases in which the board didn't take action.

More than half of the doctors disciplined received reprimands, warnings that go on their records but don't limit their practices.

In at least 50 of the cases involving reprimands, patients died or were harmed, leaving some to wonder why the board didn't order harsher penalties.

The board used the same discipline for doctors who wrote questionable sick notes for protesters at the state Capitol in 2011.
[Read more...]

Japan's rush into Myanmar snags on land ownership issues (26 January 2013)
(Reuters) - If Japan's plans to develop a massive industrial complex in Myanmar push ahead, Win Aung's village will be cut in half, his cottage and rice fields razed.

The 39-year-old is one of hundreds of farmers who make their living off rice paddies earmarked for the Thilawa economic zone, a project that has become the centerpiece of Japanese investment in Myanmar.

Win Aung, who supports a family of 12 by farming 30 acres, says he was forced to sell his land at $20 per acre to Myanmar's military junta in the 1990s. The government did not take over the land, but is now demanding the villagers vacate to make way for the Japanese.

That puts the matter in a grey area - the villagers are asking for extra compensation but the government has refused, although prices around Thilawa are between $10,000 and $20,000 per acre.

"There's no way we can afford a single acre here now," Win Aung told Reuters. He and other villagers said they were hoping the quasi-civilian government, which took over almost two years ago, would negotiate.
[Read more...]

Japan may shutter world's largest nuclear plant over earthquake threat (26 January 2013) [Rense.com]
The world's largest nuclear power plant may be forced to shut down under stricter rules proposed by Japan's new nuclear watchdog. The measures are intended to safeguard against future natural disasters following the 2011 tsunami.

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in the heart of Japan is now facing permanent closure following a move by the country's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) to expand the definition of an active fault -- a crack in the earth's crust. The operators of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power are the same company which powered the stricken Fukishima plant.

The watchdog hopes to redefine an active fault as one that has moved any time within the last 400,000 years, as opposed to the current 120,000 to 130,000-year limit, an official told AFP. The reclassification would effectively shut Kashiwazaki-Kariwa down.

Two faults designated alpha and beta run under the plant's No. 1 reactor.
[Read more...]

Kenya Launches Tech Valley Project (23 January 2013)
Nairobi -- The much awaited historic Konza Technology City, which is equated to the famous Silicon Valley in the United States of America, is now a reality after the official launch by President Mwai Kibaki on Wednesday.

This now opens gates for the developers and investors to start construction at the new city dubbed Silicon Savannah, which is expected to brand the country as a global destination of choice for technology innovations.

The Kenya Silicon Valley, on the border of Makueni and Machakos counties, where the city will be constructed on a 5,000 acres piece of land, is located 60 kilometres from Nairobi.

Once completed, the Sh850 billion project being driven by the Ministry of Information and Communications is expected to attract sufficient investments to create over 20,000 direct jobs by the end of the year.
[Read more...]

FBI is increasing pressure on suspects in Stuxnet inquiry (26 January 2013)
Federal investigators looking into disclosures of classified information about a cyberoperation that targeted Iran's nuclear program have increased pressure on current and former senior government officials suspected of involvement, according to people familiar with the investigation.

The inquiry, which was started by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. last June, is examining leaks about a computer virus developed jointly by the United States and Israel that damaged nuclear centrifuges at Iran's primary uranium enrichment plant. The U.S. code name for the operation was Olympic Games, but the wider world knew the mysterious computer worm as Stuxnet.

Prosecutors are pursuing "everybody -- at pretty high levels, too," said one person familiar with the investigation. "There are many people who've been contacted from different agencies."

The FBI and prosecutors have interviewed several current and former senior government officials in connection with the disclosures, sometimes confronting them with evidence of contact with journalists, according to people familiar with the probe. Investigators, they said, have conducted extensive analysis of the e-mail accounts and phone records of current and former government officials in a search for links to journalists.
[Read more...]

Secret hearings in case of Chandra Levy slaying (25 January 2013)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A judge has been holding secret hearings in the case of the man convicted in the 2001 killing of Chandra Levy, the latest twist in a high-profile murder that went unsolved for years and captivated the public because of the intern's romantic relationship with a California congressman.

The meetings, held sporadically behind closed doors at the courthouse over the last several weeks, raise questions about what comes next in a criminal case that appeared resolved by the 2010 conviction of Ingmar Guandique. The illegal immigrant from El Salvador is now serving a 60-year prison sentence in Levy's death, but the hearings could signal a problem with the prosecution of the case.

Authorities acknowledged they had no DNA evidence or witnesses linking Guandique to the crime, building their prosecution instead around a jailhouse informant who said Guandique had confessed behind bars that he was responsible for Levy's death. They also said the attack on Levy fit a pattern of assaults by Guandique on other female joggers in the same location where she went missing and during the same timeframe.

Guandique, who was already imprisoned for those attacks when he was accused in Levy's death in 2009, professed innocence at his sentencing hearing. His lawyers said police and prosecutors made him a scapegoat for a botched investigation.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: WARNING: This article has an embedded video with sound that plays without the reader taking any action.

Are Walmart and Big Food pushing for GMO labeling? (25 January 2013)
Since food companies collectively spent over $45 million to stop Prop 37, California's GMO labeling law, it's hard to believe that they -- and Walmart in particular -- would turn around and push for a federal GMO labeling standard. But a trickle of reports, aspects of which we've now confirmed, suggests just such a turnabout.

Playing a state-by-state game of whack-a-mole with grassroots groups trying to pass laws across the country (as is occurring in Washington state, Vermont, New Mexico, and Connecticut) may simply have become too exhausting and costly for these companies. If so, such an about-face would vindicate GMO opponents' strategy of a direct appeal to consumers. GMO-labeling advocates may have succeeded in beginning to drive a wedge between biotechnology seed companies, like Monsanto and Syngenta, and the food companies that have to sell what's produced with their wares.

That's because GMOs, for all the claims made on their behalf, actually provide very little benefit to consumers -- one of the strongest arguments against them. GMO innovations to date have simply allowed farmers to plant vast acreages of commodity crops like corn, soy, and cotton with less labor (but not, despite industry claims, with fewer chemicals). It's on this basis, perhaps, that food companies felt like the fight wasn't really theirs.

I first learned of this possible labeling sea change through an article by Ronnie Cummins, head of the Organic Consumers Association, who caught wind of news that a group of food companies went into the FDA earlier this month to "lobby for a mandatory federal GMO labeling law."
[Read more...]

Researchers to Resume Studies of Bird-Flu Virus, Except in U.S. (23 January 2013)
The voluntary moratorium on bird-flu studies is mostly over.

Controversial research into how the H5N1 virus can spread to human beings will now resume, a team of 40 biomedical researchers announced on Wednesday in a joint letter published in Science and Nature. While scientists overseen and financed by some countries, notably the United States, should wait until new research guidelines are finished, they wrote, researchers working on the virus in regions that have already dealt with the issue, including most of Europe, can be expected to resume their work presently.

"We believe this research is important to pandemic preparedness," said Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a virologist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. "The greater risk," he added, "is not doing research that can help us to be equipped to deal with a pandemic."

Mr. Kawaoka was a lead author of an H5N1 study that sparked fears from security experts and regulators that research into the virus's spread could facilitate, not prevent, threats to public health. While Mr. Kawaoka's study, along with work by Ron Fouchier, a virologist at the Erasmus Medical Center, in the Netherlands, was eventually published, the two scientists, along with 38 others, volunteered last January to suspended their research pending government review.

Whether to conduct the H5N1 work boils down to a judgment of risks and benefits, and the controversy enabled a fruitful review of such research, Nature added in an editorial. "The debate has drawn attention to, and exposed gaps in, the rules that govern 'dual-use' research," Nature's editors wrote. That discussion will not end anytime soon, and will continue at a meeting in February of the World Health Organization.
[Read more...]

From the start, Dreamliner jet program was rushed (25 January 2013)
NEW YORK (AP) -- The 787 Dreamliner was born in a moment of desperation.

It was 2003 and Boeing -- the company that defined modern air travel -- had just lost its title as the world's largest plane manufacturer to European rival Airbus. Its CEO had resigned in a defense-contract scandal. And its stock had plunged to the lowest price in a decade.

Two years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, financially troubled airlines were reluctant to buy new planes. Boeing needed something revolutionary to win back customers.

Salvation had a code name: Yellowstone.

It was a plane that promised to be lighter and more technologically advanced than any other. Half of it would be built with new plastics instead of aluminum. The cabin would be more comfortable for passengers, and airlines could cut their fuel bills by 20 percent.
[Read more...]

Sexual assault crisis tempers euphoria over end of combat ban (25 January 2013)
The day before defense secretary Leon Panetta announced the lifting of the ban on women in combat, Jennifer Norris, an air force veteran and rape survivor, testified before a congressional panel into one of the worst sexual scandals in military history.

Norris, who was abused by her recruiter and technical school inspector at Keesler Air Force Base, kept quiet about it, she said, after learning "very quickly" that reporting sexual harassment, assault or even lewd remarks could get her turned out of the Air Force. When she did find the courage to report her abusers, they were charged with sexual assault and pleaded guilty. But they were permitted to resign honourably, with full military benefits. One was allowed to stay for another two years. That was 15 years ago.

Norris told lawmakers: "It breaks my heart to see this same kind of behavior in 2013 that existed when I joined the service. I know how painful it is to be violated by another and then disregarded and thrown away, as if you are the troublemaker."

As many as one in three servicewomen report having been sexually assaulted, according to the defense department. In 2010, the latest year for which data is available, the Pentagon estimated that some 19,000 assaults occurred.
[Read more...]

New Republican Idea: Punishing Rape Victims With Jail Time (25 January 2013)
If you're looking for evidence that the differences between men and women are greatly exaggerated, the fact that women are equally capable as men of mind-blowing misogyny should erase all doubt. New Mexico state Rep. Cathrynn Brown proved that this week by introducing a bill aimed at throwing rape victims in jail if they refuse to honor their rapist's right to control their body by carrying his child. This sort of insult to rapists will not stand, so Brown, standing up bravely for rapists who want the suffering they've inflicted to carry on and on for their victims, has proposed banning abortion for rape victims on the phony grounds that it's "tampering with evidence".

Of course, the entire idea that having a rapist's baby would somehow be treated as proof of a rape is beyond silly. After all, the defense against the charge of rape is rarely to claim that the penis didn't go into the vagina, but to accuse the victim of consenting and then, due to the unique viciousness of women, claiming it was rape for the lulz. Or to conceal her epic sluttiness by having the police grill her about her sex life, the defense attorney question her about it for the public record, and the entire community gossip about what a big slut she must be to press rape charges. I suspect Brown knows this, coming from the same anti-choice circles as Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin, where the belief is that women are deceitful creatures who will lie and kill to conceal how much fun sex they're having.
[Read more...]

New link between tattoos and hepatitis C (25 January 2013)
People getting a tattoo should be picky about the parlour they have them done at, as a new study has discovered a link between body art and Hepatitis C.

According to the report, which appeared in the journal Hepatology, people with the hepatitis C virus, which is blood borne, were almost four times more likely to report having a tattoo, even when other major risk factors were taken into account

"Tattooing in and of itself may pose a risk for this disease that can lay dormant for many, many years," said study co-author Fritz Francois of New York University Langone Medical Center, although he warned that the study could not produce a direct cause and effect.

About 3.2 million people in the United States have hepatitis C, and many don't know because they don't feel ill, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplants in the U.S. Some 70 percent of people infected will develop chronic liver disease, and up to 5 percent will die from cirrhosis or liver cancer.
[Read more...]

Child labour uncovered in Apple's supply chain (26 January 2013)
Apple has discovered multiple cases of child labour in its supply chain, including one Chinese company that employed 74 children under the age of 16, in the latest controversy over the technology giant's manufacturing methods.

An internal audit found a flipside to the western consumer's insatiable thirst for innovative and competitively priced gadgets. It uncovered 106 cases of underage labour being used at Apple suppliers last year and 70 cases historically. The report follows a series of worker suicides over working conditions at Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that assembles must-have products such as the iPad and iPhone, and lethal explosions at other plants.

Apple's annual supplier report -- which monitors nearly 400 suppliers -- found that children were employed at 11 factories involved in making its products. A number of them had been recruited using forged identity papers.

The report uncovered a catalogue of other offences, ranging from mandatory pregnancy tests, to bonded workers whose wages are confiscated to pay off debts imposed by recruitment agencies. They also found cases of juveniles being used to lift heavy goods, workers having their wages docked as a punishment and one factory dumping waste oil in the toilets.
[Read more...]

Anonymous hacks US Sentencing Commission website for Swartz (26 January 2013)
Hacktivist movement Anonymous has hijacked the US Sentencing Commission website as a personal vendetta to retaliate against the justice system that threatened to imprison web activist Aaron Swartz, who recently committed suicide, for decades.

The website was hacked early Saturday and a message was placed saying that "a line was crossed" when Swartz killed himself two weeks ago.

"Two weeks ago today, Aaron Swartz was killed. Killed because he faced an impossible choice. Killed because he was forced into playing a game he could not win -- a twisted and distorted perversion of justice -- a game where the only winning move was not to play," the statement read.

Anonymous now threatens to release secret information that they have reportedly copied from several governments' computer systems they were able to access.

The hackers also put up their video statement and a list of files named after US Supreme Court justices on the hacked website.
[Read more...]

Sarah Palin is out at Fox News (25 January 2013)
Ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's "15 minutes of fame" started in 2008 with the Republican vice presidential nomination, and likely ended Friday with news that she is out of her job as a pundit at Fox News, the unofficial broadcast arm of the Republican Party.

"We have thoroughly enjoyed our association with Gov. Palin: We wish her the best in her future endeavors," Bill Shine, executive vice president at Fox, said in a statement issued to the New York Times.

Joe McGinniss, author of a Palin biography, put her departure a bit more colorfully in a tweet: "That's it. She's gone. To paraphrase Grateful Dead, What a short, strange trip it's been."

Palin was reported until last week as negotiating renewal of her contract with Fox, a $1 million-a-year deal signed in 2010 when she was a Tea Party star, best-selling author, and commanding $100,000 plus a private jet on the lecture circuit.

After upstaging Republican presidential candidates in 2011 -- she brought a Freedom Tour to New Hampshire on the day Mitt Romney was announcing, and showed up at the Iowa State Fair -- Palin has done a quick fade. She last appeared on Fox in mid-December.
[Read more...]

Struggling dolphin dies in polluted New York City canal (25 January 2013)
NEW YORK--A distressed dolphin died Friday after wandering into a notoriously polluted New York City canal, according to a marine research group that was monitoring the animal.

The animal, a common dolphin, died in the shallow waters of Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal, said Valentina Sherlock, an employee at The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation, whose biologists were keeping watch over the dolphin on behalf of police and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

A decision on what to do with the carcass would likely be made on Saturday, Sherlock said.

Earlier in the day, the animal appeared to be disoriented and seemed to be struggling to avoid getting stuck in the muddy floor of the shallow canal, said Mendy Garron, a marine mammals response coordinator from NOAA.

"When we see animals that come in, especially this far, and get into these situations they are typically very disoriented, and it's an indicator that they're either sick or injured," Garron said, adding that healthy common dolphins are rarely seen separated from their pod.

"They usually don't survive these types of stranding events," she said.
[Read more...]

Who Is Dayani Cristal?: Gael García Bernal Traces Path of Migrant Worker Who Died in Arizona Desert (25 January 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: What a remarkable film. As the whole Democracy Now! team came out, they were in awe. Talk about how you blended real documentary footage with dramatic acting of Bernal and others.

MARC SILVER: Well, we--the documentary part is the discovery, as you said, of this dead person in the desert, and we retrace that person--person's family all the way back to Honduras and follow the body as it goes through this investigative process and returns home to the funeral. Because our, if you like, main character, or that case, is about a dead man, we needed to work out a way where we could breathe like life and juxtapose the very tragic story of that person dying in the desert. And we wanted to, if you like, bring life as a juxtaposition to death, and hence started to work out with Gael what would be the best way to do that.

AMY GOODMAN: And how does this relate to this series of shorts you did for Amnesty International with Bernal?

MARC SILVER: Well, Gael and I made a series of shorts for Amnesty that looked at the human rights abuse of migrants traveling through southern Mexico, about a year before we did this shoot for Dayani Cristal. And that informed Gael and myself about what it was that migrants went through. Six out of 10 women are raped on the journey through Mexico. Up to 10,000 migrants get kidnapped every year and extorted for money as they travel through Mexico. And that, I think, pushed Gael into a very emotionally engaged space when it came to the issue of migration.
[Read more...]

CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou given more than two years in prison for exposing details of illegal torture (25 January 2013)
The former CIA officer John Kiriakou was sentenced Friday to more than two years in prison, by a federal judge who rejected arguments that he was acting as a whistleblower when he leaked a covert officer's name to a reporter. A plea deal required the judge to impose a sentence of two and a half years. US district judge Leonie Brinkema said she would have given Kiriakou much more time if she could.

Kiriakou's supporters describe him as a whistleblower who exposed aspects of the CIA's use of torture against detained terrorists. Prosecutors said Kiriakou was merely seeking to increase his fame and public stature by trading on his insider knowledge. The 48-year-old Arlington resident pleaded guilty last year to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. No one had been convicted under the law in 27 years.

Kiriakou was an intelligence officer with the CIA from 1990 until 2004. He served overseas and at headquarters in Langley. In 2002, Kiriakou played a key role in the agency's capture of the al-Qaida terrorist Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan. Abu Zubaydah, who was waterboarded by government interrogators, revealed information that led to the arrest of "dirty bomb" plotter Jose Padilla and exposed Khalid Sheikh Mohamed as the mastermind of the 11 September 2001 terror attacks.

Accounts conflict, however, over whether the waterboarding was helpful in gleaning intelligence from Zubaydah, who was also interrogated conventionally.
[Read more...]

Lawmakers require VA to track effects of burn pits (26 January 2013)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- J.D. Williams didn't think much about the smoke cloud that often shrouded his air base in Iraq. Not when it covered everything he owned with black soot or when his wheezing and coughing made it difficult to sleep at night.

"We just went about our business because there was a war going on," said Williams, a retired chief warrant officer who was responsible for maintaining some 250 aircraft for the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division.

He returned home from that second stint in Iraq in 2006 and subsequently was diagnosed with an irreversible lung disease that his doctor suspects could be related to smoke from one of the hundreds of burn pits that dotted Iraq and Afghanistan during the course of the two wars. The pits were used to burn off the garbage that accumulates at military bases, everything from Styrofoam and metal to paints, solvents, human waste and medical waste.

A new Department of Veterans Affairs registry, mandated by Congress, will be used to try to determine if there is a link between the burn pits and long-term health problems.
[Read more...]

Virginia faces $1.4B loss under planned Navy cuts (26 January 2013)
If Congress doesn't intervene, the Navy would reduce its spending in Virginia by $1.4 billion, including canceling $271 million in ship repairs in Hampton Roads, cutting more than 1,000 temporary workers and deferring construction on an aircraft carrier it plans to buy.

In total, the Navy is planning for $4.6 billion in budget cuts over the next eight months that would affect operations across the United States. But the cuts would be most severe in Virginia, according to analysis of the documents released Friday by the Navy's top admiral.

Among the cuts being considered in Virginia are:

- Canceling about $270 million in maintenance work on eight destroyers, an amphibious assault ship and the carrier Eisenhower that had been planned between April and September.

- Cutting 1,121 temporary civilian workers and freezing civilian hires to save $100 million.
[Read more...]

Solar power cheaper than coal: One company says it's cracked the code (25 January 2013)
Over time I've grown more and more suspicious of stories about breakthrough technologies. I always think back to those heady days of EEStor, the guys who were going to make a battery that would revolutionize grid storage and electric cars alike. "EEStor CEO says game-changing energy storage device coming by 2010"! As you may have noticed, 2010 came and went and the game remains unchanged.

All of which is to say, regarding the post to follow: caveat lector.

Still, this looks very, very cool.

CleanTechnica has an exclusive on a new solar technology that claims to be able to produce power with a levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of 8¢/kWh. That is mind-boggling, "two-thirds the price of retail electricity and over 3 times cheaper than current solar technology." If the claim proves to be true (and a lot can happen between prototype and mass manufacturing), it could revolutionize the solar industry.

The company is called V3Solar (formerly Solarphasec) and its product, the Spin Cell, ingeniously solves two big problems facing solar PV.
[Read more...]

Koch brothers secretly fund attacks on climate science (24 January 2013)
A secretive funding organisation in the United States that guarantees anonymity for its billionaire donors has emerged as a major operator in the climate "counter movement" to undermine the science of global warming, The Independent has learnt.

The Donors Trust, along with its sister group Donors Capital Fund, based in Alexandria, Virginia, is funnelling millions of dollars into the effort to cast doubt on climate change without revealing the identities of its wealthy backers or that they have links to the fossil fuel industry.

However, an audit trail reveals that Donors is being indirectly supported by the American billionaire Charles Koch who, with his brother David, jointly owns a majority stake in Koch Industries, a large oil, gas and chemicals conglomerate based in Kansas.

Millions of dollars has been paid to Donors through a third-party organisation, called the Knowledge and Progress Fund, with is operated by the Koch family but does not advertise its Koch connections.
[Read more...]

"Gideon's Army": Young Public Defenders Brave Staggering Caseloads, Low Pay to Represent the Poor (24 January 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: The oral arguments we just heard, talk about their significance and what this ruling, the right to counsel in a criminal case, has meant.

DAWN PORTER: You know, I think we are--as Americans, we are so familiar with the phrase, "You have the right to an attorney," that we think it's something that originated with the Constitution. It's actually only 50 years old. So that Supreme Court ruling was incredibly important. I'm so glad that you played that clip. I'm a lawyer. You know, I remember in constitutional law learning about that case, the Gideon decision. Gideon was an indigent person who wrote from prison a handwritten letter to the Supreme Court and said, "This isn't fair." And the Supreme Court not only agreed, but they agreed in a unanimous opinion that this is fundamental to the Bill of Rights. And Abe Fortas argued the case, a preeminent Washington, D.C., lawyer, went on to the Supreme Court. It was remarkable jurisprudence. But, you know, what we're seeing now is that that remarkable decision has not been implemented, has not been as effectual as its importance.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to another of the clips in Gideon's Army. This is Brandy Alexander, a public defender in Georgia, discussing the case of one of her young clients.

BRANDY ALEXANDER: He is a kid. And he's facing a lot of time. If he's found guilty, it will break him. Mentally and emotionally, he'll be broken. I can't fathom--I cannot fathom turning around to his mother after a jury has said "guilty." And I've told her he's going to get 10 years, at least, at minimum. She says he's done like a complete 180. He has a job. He's working on his GED. Apparently he has this girlfriend. So, I think that he's been scared straight, assuming he gets a "not guilty" verdict and is allowed to live his life. And here's hoping that that's the end result. And we don't see happily-ever-afters very much in this profession, but hopefully we get us a happily-ever-after.
[Read more...]

Is Obama's Coal-Country Nemesis Hiring Again? (24 January 2013)
Murray's case against Obama got more headlines in the weeks that followed. The firm hosted a huge rally for Mitt Romney at its mine in Beallsville, Ohio, which Romney turned into footage for a powerful ad attacking Obama for setting out to destroy the coal industry. This was followed by reports in the local media that miners had been required to attend the rally without pay. Soon afterward, I reported on another intersection of politics in the workplace: The pressure felt by salaried employees to give to the company's PAC and to Republican candidates Murray favored, efforts that had made Murray Energy one of the country's most formidable fundraisers for GOP campaigns.

Murray made headlines once again just after Election Day in November, when he announced that Obama's reelection was forcing him to lay off another 150 or so workers at mines in Utah and Illinois, a decision for which he offered a lengthy prayer of forgiveness.

All of which helps explain why I was surprised when I got reports from Ohio this week suggesting that operations at the Red Bird West mine, the one whose shutdown was announced with such fanfare last summer, are now picking up again. "It's opened back up...they're hiring people," said Gary Parsons, a former superintendent at the mine who worked there for five years before being laid off with the announcement of the shutdown last summer. Parsons himself has not been called back, and is planning simply to retire early, but he said he had talked to several locals who were taking steps to get hired back on. He said he did not understand why, after the big headline-making closure last year, things were perking up at the mine. "I don't know what's going on," he said. "They said they was going to close the mine down."

Another former Murray employee confirmed that operations were picking back up at Red Bird West. "They've called back some hourly folks. They're definitely starting it back up," the former employee said. What explained the reversal? This former employee conjectured that presidential campaign politics may have played a role. After all, announcing the shutdown of the mine a few months before Election Day was not helpful to Obama, who dearly needed to win Ohio. "In my opinion, it was all for politics," the former Murray employee said. "It was just a show of politics to try to scare people, to get votes for [Murray's] candidate...I felt they were playing politics from day one, and they certainly didn't waste any time starting back up again."
[Read more...]

Google, Facebook and Twitter may 'face EU defamation and privacy cases' (24 January 2013)
Google, Facebook and Twitter's decision to establish their European bases in Dublin has opened the internet giants up to EU defamation and privacy laws like never before, a libel lawyer has warned.

The world's biggest search engine and the social networks' presence in Ireland will also enable lawyers to sue the companies on behalf of clients abused by anonymous bloggers and tweeters according to Paul Tweed, the Belfast-based libel expert.

Tweed, who has acted in libel cases for Jennifer Lopez, Harrison Ford and recently The X Factor judge Louis Walsh, who accepted damages €500,000 (£421,000) from the Sun, said it will be the likes of Google, Twitter and Facebook who will pay the ultimate price for the "abusive, anonymous blogger in his underpants".

He added that his law firm, Johnsons, has recently sent warning letters and emails to individual bloggers and tweeters who have abused journalists and politicians. Johnsons has also sent warnings to the relevant internet servers providers.
[Read more...]

Multiple vaccine doses have resulted in up to 145,000 child deaths in past 20 years (24 January 2013)
(NaturalNews) The recommended childhood vaccination schedule has changed dramatically over the years, with children now receiving upwards of 30 vaccines, including multiple combination vaccines, before the age of six. And in many cases, doctors and nurses administer half a dozen or more vaccines all at once during a single visit to make sure children get all these shots and to save time. But according to data compiled from the government's Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), as many as 145,000 children or more have died throughout the past 20 years as a result of this multiple vaccine dose approach, and few parents are aware of this shocking fact.

In a study recently published in the journal Human & Experimental Toxicology, researchers evaluated the overall number of hospitalizations and deaths associated with vaccines administered between 1990 and 2010, and compared this data to the number of vaccines given at one time to individual children. Hospitalizations and deaths resulting from one vaccine dose were compared to those of two vaccine doses, in other words, and the same all the way up to eight vaccine doses. Researchers also evaluated overall hospitalization and death rates associated with getting one to four combined vaccine doses, five to eight combined vaccine doses, and one to eight combined vaccine doses.

Upon analysis, the team found that the more vaccines a child receives during a single doctor visit, the more likely he or she is to suffer a severe reaction or even die. According to Heidi Stevenson from Gaia Health, for each additional vaccine a child receives, his or her chance of death increases by an astounding 50 percent -- and with each additional vaccine dose, chances of having to be hospitalized for severe complications increase two-fold. To sum it all up, the overall size of the vaccine load was found to be directly associated with hospitalization and death risk, illustrating the incredible dangers of administering multiple vaccines at once.

Parents of children who become injured after just one vaccine tend to cease further vaccinations, suggests data
Interestingly, the total number of reported hospitalizations and deaths from getting just one vaccine was higher than the number reported for getting two, three, or even four vaccines. Though the precise reason for this is unknown, it is believed that newborns mostly fall into the one vaccine category, and those that are injured by a single vaccine tend not to get any more vaccines, hence the immediate decrease observed among children who received only two vaccines. Once a child reaches five vaccinations; however, the hospitalization and death rate jumps dramatically, the reason for which was not investigated as part of the study.
[Read more...]

At least 50 African children paralyzed after receiving Bill Gates-backed meningitis vaccine (23 January 2013)
(NaturalNews) Bill and Melinda Gates have been on a crusade for at least the past decade to vaccinate every single child on the planet. And one of their primary geographical targets has been the continent of Africa, where poor sanitations and lack of clean water have created conditions in which diseases like meningitis and malaria run rampant. But rather than try to meet these basic needs, the multi-billionaires and their many allies have instead thrust vaccines on indigenous populations as the solution, which has in turn sparked a wave of paralysis among Africa's younger populations.

As covered by investigative journalist Christina England over at Vactruth.com, the small village of Gouro in northern Chad, for instance, recently fell victim to the dark side of this vaccine agenda after at least 50 youth in the area developed paralysis following vaccination with "MenAfriVac," a new meningitis vaccine developed specifically for Africa. Touted as a preventive cure for meningitis, MenAfriVac reportedly caused each of the children, some of whom were as young as seven, to suffer hallucinations, convulsions, and ultimately paralysis.

According to a cousin of two of the vaccine-injured children, the horrific side effects of MenAfriVac began to appear within 24 hours of its administration. Many of the children affected by it immediately began to experience headaches and vomiting, which later progressed into "uncontrollable convulsions while bent over with saliva coming from their mouths." But when parents and local authorities tried to call on higher-up government officials to take action and help the affected children, their petitions for relief were all but ignored.

Government of Chad attempts to bribe parents into silence
This same cousin, who is referred to by England as "Mr. M.," added that when Chad's Minister of Health and Minister of Social Security finally showed up to Gouro nearly a week after the series of paralyzations first took place, they decided to evacuate the 50 paralyzed children to a hospital more than 300 miles away, as there is only one available doctor in the entire region of Gouro.
[Read more...]

"Fire in the Blood": Millions Die in Africa After Big Pharma Blocks Imports of Generic AIDS Drugs (23 January 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
DR. PETER MUGYENYI: Well, he just literally announced that it is not true that these drugs can only be manufactured at such an exorbitant cost. He demonstrated that they could be demonstrated at relatively affordable cost, which would save millions of lives because of affordability. So it was the issue of affordability and access where Hamied came in and acted.

AMY GOODMAN: So before him, drug companies were charging like $15,000 for a year for one patient to get a triple cocktail for the year. And he cut that price to less than a dollar a day? $15,000 to $350 for the year?

DR. PETER MUGYENYI: Yes, and that action was incredible. For the first time, millions of people who were dying stopped dying in Africa, because they started accessing life-saving drugs.

AMY GOODMAN: Why did you end up in jail in Uganda?

DR. PETER MUGYENYI: Well, it was--I was arrested, but I was rescued because Uganda government was concerned about the plight of the citizens who were dying in such a big number. So an emergency meeting that rescued me from arrest took place in front of the government ministers, and at that meeting I made it clear: I said to the meeting that, "Look, your relatives are dying of AIDS. Your citizens are dying of AIDS. I'm a doctor working among the AIDS patients, and I have no tools to save my patients' lives. All I have done is to import affordable drugs, which will increase access. These drugs are at the airport. They are under your care. You can block them from coming in, but as far as I'm concerned, I have done my job of bringing life-saving drugs to Uganda." And I think they understood. And every one of them had relatives who were suffering from AIDS, or at least a friend whom they knew who had died from AIDS. And so, this was--it was not very difficult to convince them that this action was necessary, and I needed to be out saving lives with drugs instead of being arrested.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: Again, the Clark zapper might be a good thing to try, with or without pharmaceuticals.

Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence agrees to end hunger protest, spokesman says (23 January 2013)
OTTAWA -- Chief Theresa Spence, the leader of northern Ontario's remote Attawapiskat First Nation, has agreed to end her hunger protest after six weeks of forgoing solid food, her spokesman said Wednesday.

Spence has been subsisting only on fish broth and medicinal tea since Dec. 11 to push for a meeting between First Nations leaders, the prime minister and the Governor General.

Both she and Elder Raymond Robinson, who has been engaged in a similar protest, have agreed to stop, spokesman Danny Metatawabin said in a statement.

The breakthrough comes after a coalition of Liberal and NDP politicians and First Nations chiefs agreed to a declaration spelling out 13 specific demands for continuing negotiations between First Nations and the federal government.

The declaration calls for improvements to housing and schools on reserves, as well as an immediate meeting between the Governor General, the federal and provincial governments and all First Nations.
[Read more...]

Burger King drops supplier linked to horsemeat (24 January 2013)
LONDON (AP) -- Burger King says it has stopped buying beef from an Irish supplier whose patties in Britain and Ireland were found to contain traces of horsemeat.

The fast food chain said in a statement that it had dropped Silvercrest Foods as a supplier for its U.K. and Ireland restaurants as a "voluntary and precautionary measure."

Last week Silvercrest shut down its production line and recalled 10 million burgers from supermarket shelves in Britain and Ireland after horse DNA was found in some beef products.

Products from another Irish firm and one in Britain also were contaminated.
[Read more...]

Quitting cigarettes before 40 markedly boosts life expectancy, study finds (23 January 2013)
Longevity wise, it's almost like you never took a drag.

Butting out permanently before age 40 can restore the life expectancies of smokers to virtually normal lengths, shows a new study out of Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital.

"The survival curves become close to never-smokers," said Dr. Prabhat Jha, head of St. Mike's Centre for Global Health Research.

"You're still at a disadvantage by quitting at age 40, but those that quit by age 30 have pretty much the same survival curves as never-smokers," according to Jha, a public health expert at the University of Toronto whose study was published Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine.

Cigarettes statistically cut a decade off a smoker's life, Jha said. But those who quit at 40 can gain back nine of those lost years.
[Read more...]

Distressed dolphin seeks out diver for help (23 January 2013)
Diving in waters near Hawaii recently, a group of photographers were surprised to see a Bottlenose dolphin swim right up to them seemingly in distress.

As they discovered on the night of Jan. 11, the dolphin had a hook embedded in its mouth and fishing line wrapped around one of its pectoral fins, and it was wound so tightly that it had cut into the creature's tissue.

Diver and photographer Martina Wing made sure her cameras were rolling when an associate took out a pocket knife and began trying to cut the line away. Amazingly, it did not resist and appeared to be communicating its need for assistance.

Then the dolphin briefly vanished, returning to the surface for air before swimming back down to the divers for more help. It even rolled over to let its new friends get a better angle on the line.
[Read more...]

PAM COMMENTARY: They have an embedded video, pretty cool.

US Navy ship taking on water on Philippine reef (23 January 2013)
MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- A U.S. Navy minesweeper that ran aground on a Philippine reef is damaged and taking on water and will have to be lifted off the rocks in an operation that could last another week or two, a Navy official said Thursday.

Before the USS Guardian can be removed from the Tubbataha Reef, about 56,000 liters (15,000 gallons) of fuel will be siphoned off to avoid spills, Rear Adm. Thomas Carney, commander of the Navy's Logistics Group in the Western Pacific, told reporters.

The ship, which is based in Japan, crashed into the reef before dawn Jan. 17 while on its way to Indonesia after making a rest and refueling stop in Subic Bay, a former American naval base west of Manila.

All of its 79 officers and crew were transferred to two other U.S. vessels the following day for safety reasons as the 68-meter (74-yard) long, 1,300-ton ship was unable to maneuver on its own and buffeted by strong winds and waves.
[Read more...]

Think you're good at multi-tasking? You're probably not (23 January 2013)
New research has found that people who think they are the best at multi-tasking are usually the worst.

A study from the University of Utah, published Wednesday in PLOS ONE, an online journal of the Public Library of Science, offers a cautionary lesson at a time when new media devices and gadgetry are making multi-tasking more enticing than ever before, said co-author David Strayer, a psychology professor who's been studying the issue for the past decade.

"We're a multi-tasking society these days. . .and the people who are doing it the most are the people who most likely shouldn't be doing it," Strayer said.

"People that are most likely to be multi-tasking. . .tend to be over-confident and show higher levels of sensation-seeking and impulsivity and tend not actually to be the people who are the most competent at doing it," he said.

"To some extent, it's your worst nightmare. If you look at rearview mirror and see somebody's who's texting, they're not the most competent. More than likely, they're probably just over-confident," Strayer added.
[Read more...]

Vietnam to produce its own lethal drugs for executions (24 January 2013)
Vietnam is to begin producing its own chemical for executing prisoners after factories in the European Union stopped shipments because of objections there to the death penalty.

Vietnam stopped using firing squads in 2011 because of concerns it was traumatising the shooters. Last year, the government said it was unable to execute 532 people on death row because it could not source the drugs for lethal injections.

The Labourer newspaper on Thursday quoted the minister of public security, Tran Dai Quang, as saying Vietnam would produce its own drug. The report gave no details.

EU factories are the main supplier of drugs that can be used in executions. Several American states have also said objections from European factories were making it hard to find the chemical.
[Read more...]

U.S. NTSB reviewing whistleblower claims in 787 case (24 January 2013)
(Reuters) - The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is looking at issues raised by more than one whistleblower as it investigates battery failures that have grounded the global fleet of 50 Boeing Co (BA.N) 787 Dreamliners for a week.

Michael Leon, one of the whistleblowers, said he spoke with an NTSB investigator this week and gave him extensive materials about his claim that he was fired around six years ago for raising safety concerns about Securaplane Technologies Inc., an Arizona company that makes chargers for the highly flammable lithium-ion batteries at the heart of the probe.

In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday and in earlier court papers, Leon said Securaplane was rushing to ship chargers that by his assessment did not conform to specifications and could have malfunctioned.

A federal administrative judge later dismissed Leon's complaints after concluding he was fired for repeated misconduct, according to court documents. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) concluded that the pieces of equipment he complained about were never installed in the aircraft, as they were prototypes.

Leon appealed the federal court's ruling in 2011, but no decision has been reached.

Now the NTSB is taking a closer look at some safety concerns people have previously raised as part of a widening investigation by U.S., Japanese and French authorities into two 787 battery failures this month. One involved a fire on a parked 787 at Boston airport, the other forced a second 787 to make an emergency landing in Japan.
[Read more...]

"We Steal Secrets": Alex Gibney's New Documentary Explores the Story of WikiLeaks (23 January 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
ALEX GIBNEY: Well, I mean that the biggest problem I had with Julian Assange came up over the Swedish episode. That is to say, an episode in which questions were raised about his behavior with two women in Sweden. And a lot of people, including me, thought at the time that this was some sort of obvious sort of honey trap, some sort of CIA plot to prevent him from leaking any further documents. And it turns out it's not that. It's--in my view, it's a story about one man and two women, but--and it's been morphed, I think, by Julian Assange into something bigger than that. And now I think he believes something that I don't think is true.

AMY GOODMAN: Which is?

ALEX GIBNEY: Which is that the United States is trying to use or manipulate the Swedish judicial process in order to get him to Sweden, in order to send him to the United States for trial.

AMY GOODMAN: And why do you not think that is true?

ALEX GIBNEY: Because there's no evidence that it's true. I mean, we know that there's a grand jury proceeding--or, there's a grand jury investigation of Julian Assange, but there's absolutely no evidence that the United States is manipulating the Swedish legal process in any way, shape or form. Furthermore, it's much more difficult to extradite Julian Assange from Sweden than it is from the United Kingdom. In fact, if he goes to Sweden and extradition proceedings were to happen, it would--the United Kingdom would actually have to sign off on that. And he's had an extraordinary number of legal appeals in the United Kingdom to ascertain whether or not these questions, because no charges have been brought yet, but whether these questions are legitimate, and, you know, he's lost every time. He's gotten an extraordinary amount of, you know, legal opportunity to bring his case, but he's not really been successful. So--
[Read more...]

WikiLeaks Legal Adviser: "We Steal Secrets" Overlooks Key Facets of Julian Assange's Persecution (23 January 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
AMY GOODMAN: You watched the film. What were your thoughts?

JENNIFER ROBINSON: Well, I think this is a film that touches upon an incredibly important subject matter. This is, of course, a film about WikiLeaks, about the largest leak in history. It touches on incredibly important issues about journalism and whistleblowing. But unfortunately, I do not think that this film does justice to those issues.


JENNIFER ROBINSON: In particular, I think--look, filmmaking is--of course, has its challenges. I think Alex Gibney is an incredible filmmaker and has made some very important films. But filmmakers have to make choices. And what I think are interesting about the choices here is that this film does not recognize the threats that WikiLeaks faces in terms of potential U.S. prosecution. It does not reference the grand jury. It seeks to present Julian Assange as a fantasist and a paranoid fantasist, while not recognizing the threats that he faces. In particular, the film states specifically that Ecuador granted asylum without evidence. Now, we know it doesn't refer--the film doesn't refer to the grand jury. These are objectively available facts that are on the public record. There is a grand jury in existence. There is an active, ongoing criminal investigation against Julian Assange. It was discovered through diplomatic cables from the Australian government that the criminal investigation is of unprecedented size and scale. Now, this film does not reference that in any shape or form, and I think that's an incredible oversight.
[Read more...]

FBI agent denies using public funds on prostitutes for suspects (23 January 2013)
Ro also denied defense allegations that he had sex with prostitutes at the clubs.

"I didn't do anything wrong at all," he said.

A 16-year FBI veteran, Ro testified as part of a defense motion seeking to throw out the criminal case against Sergio Santiago Syjuco, Cesar Ubaldo and Filipino customs official Arjyl Revereza. They have been charged with smuggling assault rifles, grenade launchers and mortar launchers from the Philippines to Long Beach in June 2011.

Defense attorneys allege that Ro committed "outrageous government misconduct" while investigating the case and that he paid for sex for the defendants to induce them to participate in the smuggling scheme.
[Read more...]

Google report reveals continued rise in US government requests for data (23 January 2013)
Google has revealed the full scale of the US government's use of controversial legislation that bypasses judicial approval to access the online information of private citizens.

According to its latest transparency report, the number of requests for private data Google received from US officials had increased by 136% by the end of 2012 from the second half of 2009, when the search firm first started collecting data.

In the US, 68% of requests were made under Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) subpoenas, which, unlike wiretaps or physical search warrants, typically circumvent the need for officials to make their case to a judge. Google said it complies to some degree with 90% of those requests.

This is the first time Google has disclosed the legal processes used by US officials to gather electronic information.
[Read more...]

Virginia Republicans' bald-faced power grab (22 January 2013)
IN A SNEAK ATTACK notable more for its deviousness than its strategic acuity, Virginia Republicans engineered a bald-faced power grab Monday that would radically redraw the state's electoral map without so much as a "yea," "nay" or "maybe" from anything so trivial as a voter.

Taking advantage of the absence of a single Democratic state senator, GOP lawmakers in Richmond rammed through a radically gerrymandered map designed to hand them control of the 40-member state Senate, which is now split evenly between the two parties.

They were able to do so, on a vote of 20 to 19, because one Democratic senator was in Washington to attend President Obama's inauguration. Touche, Republicans! Count that as a new low for hyper-partisanship, dirty tricks and the unaccountable arrogance of power.

The Republican move was executed in the style of a putsch, arising from a conspiracy and with no warning, public input or debate. Pressing their momentary numerical superiority, GOP lawmakers amended a routine House bill by tacking on a new map, devised in secret. Although this is one of the most partisan redistricting plans in Virginia's history, the Republicans then cut off debate after 30 minutes.
[Read more...]

Sierra Club to engage in civil disobedience for first time (22 January 2013)
How hot is the controversial Keystone Pipeline controversy getting? The Sierra Club is -- for the first time in its history -- going to engage in civil disobedience on Feb. 17 in Washington, D.C., which is also a day that greenies predict will be "the largest climate rally in history."

With Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman approving the pipeline's route through his state Tuesday, Sierra Club President Michael Brune hopped onto Facebook to announce that the San Francisco-headquartered Club is "for the first time in our 120-year history....be engaging in peaceful civil disobedience to help stop the dirty and destructive Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. We're all in!"

Now, Club officials point out that the Feb. 17 rally is separate from the act of civil disobedience, which they are not releasing information about.

This is a major symbol of how The Club -- and enviros in general -- are jacking up pressure on President Obama. Yeah, they say, he gave a major shout-out Monday in his Inaugural Address to taking on climate change, but now is the time to back up the talk with action, they say.
[Read more...]

Nebraska governor OKs Keystone pipeline route, but US delays decision (22 January 2013)
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration has delayed a decision on TransCanada Corp's rerouted Keystone XL oil pipeline until after March, even though Nebraska's governor on Tuesday approved a plan for part of the line running through his state.

"We don't anticipate being able to conclude our own review before the end of the first quarter of this year," said Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman at the State Department, which had previously said it would make a decision by that deadline.

She said the department would take into consideration approval of the line by Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman.

Interest in the fate of the $5.3 billion pipeline that would link Canada's oil sands to refineries in Texas has been heightened after President Barack Obama promised to fight climate change.
[Read more...]

Keystone XL's fate now in the hands of U.S. State Department (22 January 2013)
The fate of TransCanada's controversial Keystone XL pipeline was put squarely in the hands of the U.S. State Department on Tuesday after Nebraska's governor approved a new route amid fierce opposition from environmental groups.

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama confirming that he would allow the Alberta-to-Texas oil pipeline to go through his state along a revised route that skirts an environmentally sensitive area.

Because the Keystone XL would cross an international border, it requires approval from the U.S. State Department and President Barack Obama.

The $7-billion project would carry bitumen extracted from Alberta's oilsands to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Some critics of Keystone see it as an environmental threat and symbolic of a wrong-headed energy policy, both because of potential oil spills and because of the amount of carbon released by the oilsands extraction process.
[Read more...]

Epilepsy drug has long-term effect on child IQ: study (22 January 2013)
The new research, published in the journal The Lancet Neurology, examined the same children at the age of six.

Children born to mothers who had used valproate in pregnancy had an IQ that was seven to 10 points lower than children whose mothers had used one of three other epilepsy drugs, it found.

The higher the dose of valproate the mother took in pregnancy, the greater the IQ discrepancy. Verbal skills and memory were also affected.

The study, conducted between October 1999 and February 2004, by Kimford Meador at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, covered 305 pregnant women who had been using either valproate, carbamazepine, lamotrigine, or phenytoin.
[Read more...]

Shock finding: Most probiotic supplements made with genetically modified flow agents, fillers (22 January 2013)
(NaturalNews) A Natural News investigation into the probiotics industry has turned up alarming information about how probiotics are formulated and labeled. We've found that nearly all probiotics available in the U.S. market today are secretly formulated with genetically modified ingredients that are intentionally not listed on the label. The most common such ingredient is maltodextrin, a corn-derived flow agent.

Look for yourself at the probiotics available today, and you'll find something curious: Virtually none of them are certified USDA organic. Why is that? If you read the ingredients on the label, you might scratch your head and wonder why they can't make those ingredients organic. But the real story is found in the "dirty little secret" that probiotics supplement manufacturers are not listing on the labels: Maltodextrin and other fillers and flow agents that are derived from GM corn.

You are being lied to about probiotics ingredients
Here's the rock-bottom truth about probiotics: You are being LIED to about what they're made from because the FDA does not require manufacturers to list fillers and flow agents as ingredients.

Yep, you read that right: A probiotics manufacturer can add genetically modified corn maltodextrin to their formula and they are not required to disclose this on the label. While the maltodextrin will disqualify them from receiving organic certification, it doesn't stop them from using the word "natural" on their bottles.
[Read more...]

Death from above: Chicago's bird casualties offer clues on climate change (22 January 2013)
Dave Willard guides the way into a room within Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History, where the scene inside is at once ghastly and gorgeous. Soft down floats in the air as chatty biologists tear fistfuls of feathers from corpses of birds large and small. This day's work: sparrows, warblers, thrushes, sapsuckers, and creepers, all among the 3,000 birds collected from last fall's migration.

It is Wednesday, "prep day" at the museum's Bird Preparation Lab, the small quarters where Willard, a 66-year-old biologist specializing in ornithology, leads the nation's most extensive study of migratory birds, most killed by brutal concussion when hitting windows at flight speeds of up to 65 miles per hour.

Because of its location on migratory routes, Chicago's skyline kills more birds than any other in the country. Navigating by the stars and hungry after flights from as far away as Peru, the birds arrive on Lake Michigan's shoreline in search of food. There, the twinkling city and its canyons become a death trap.

Now, stripped down to the burgundy-brown musculature veined with tissue, the birds are lined up on cafeteria trays, their china-like frames reminiscent of a hat-and-cane vaudeville dance act. There's a perfume of sweet meat, mothballs, and rot. As the biologists pluck and eviscerate, they sip coffee and talk about football and politics. Then someone carries in a paper tray of what looks to be -- yes, chicken nuggets.
[Read more...]

Winnipeg caretakers fired for keeping suites warm (22 January 2013)
Two Winnipeg caretakers say they were fired for trying to keep their tenants warm.

Penny Letourneau and Mike Dent said they were terminated on Monday because they refused to turn down the heat at a Preston Avenue apartment block.

Letourneau and Dent said the company they worked for, World Wide Management, ordered them in October to turn the building's boiler off from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to cut down heating costs.

The pair initially agreed but they began keeping the boiler on again in early December, following numerous complaints from tenants. The Wolesley-area building has 15 units and is home to 21 tenants, including at least one mother and baby.
[Read more...]

Former Walker aide Tim Russell gets prison for stealing from veterans group (22 January 2013)
Russell, in a shaking voice, apologized to his friends and family and to the Heritage Guard Preservation Society, from which he acknowledged stealing just more than $27,000. He said he will spend the rest of his life making up for what he did.

Russell is among six former Walker aides and associates implicated in the probe launched in May 2010 by the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office. Walker has insisted he is not a target. Landgraf declined comment after Tuesday's sentencing.

Five of the six have been convicted. Brian Pierick, Russell's partner, is scheduled to go on trial Jan. 29 on charges of child enticement based on evidence uncovered during the investigation.

Hansher also took offense at Russell's statements in a presentence report that the ongoing secret John Doe investigation was politically motivated. Hansher called Reserve Judge Neal Nettesheim, who is overseeing the investigation, one of the most well-respected jurists in the state.
[Read more...]

Rotterdam art heist suspects arrested in Romania; art not yet recovered (22 January 2013)
Romanian authorities have arrested three suspects in the theft of paintings by Picasso, Matisse and others from a Rotterdam art gallery last year, Dutch police said on Tuesday. The stolen works have not been recovered.

The late-night raid at the Kunsthal gallery in October was the biggest art theft in more than a decade in the Netherlands. The stolen works would have an estimated value of tens of millions of pounds if sold at auction, but art experts said that would be impossible following the theft.

A Rotterdam police spokeswoman said: "Three people have been arrested, but unfortunately we have not got back the paintings." There were no further details of the arrests or the suspects.

Thieves are believed to have broken into the gallery through an emergency exit at the rear of the building and snatched the paintings. The following morning only white spaces and broken hanging wires were left. Police were on the scene within five minutes of an alarm being triggered but the thieves were already gone.
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Google launches pilot project to get rid of passwords (22 January 2013)
You may think 3%oiH[nk&R is a good password but Google knows you're wrong.

The Internet giant has launched a pilot project with encryption key company Yubico to find a way to replace passwords for all of its services.

"We feel passwords and simple bearer tokens such as cookies are no longer sufficient to keep users safe," Google vice-president of security Eric Grosseand engineer Mayank Upadhyay write in a research paper to be published this month, Wired magazine reported.

Stina Ehrensvard, founder and CEO of Yubico, confirmed the project for the Toronto Star and explained why Google has to act quickly to replace passwords.
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Steve Jobs threatened patent suit to enforce no-hire policy: filing (22 January 2013)
(Reuters) - Apple co-founder Steve Jobs threatened to file a patent lawsuit against Palm if that company's chief executive didn't agree to refrain from poaching Apple employees, according to a court filing made public on Tuesday.

The communication from Jobs surfaced in a civil lawsuit brought by five tech workers against Apple Inc, Google Inc, Intel Corp and others, alleging an illegal conspiracy to eliminate competition for each other's employees and drive down wages.

The defendant tech companies have attempted to keep a range of documents secret. However, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California rejected parts of that request, which led to details of Jobs' 2007 communications with then-Palm chief executive Edward Colligan becoming part of the public record.

Jobs proposed eliminating competition between the two companies for talent, according to a sworn statement from Colligan cited by the plaintiffs.
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Dirty Wars: Jeremy Scahill and Rick Rowley's New Film Exposes Hidden Truths of Covert U.S. Warfare (22 January 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, I mean, this was something that started under the Bush administration, and when President Obama first took office, he was briefed on this by the then-director--the outgoing director of the CIA, Michael Hayden. And he described to him this policy that they had developed called "signature strikes," where they were looking at patterns of life. If an individual had contact with certain other individuals, if they were traveling in a certain area at certain times, if they were gathering with a certain number of people, that there was a presumption that they must be up to no good, that they are suspected militants or suspected terrorists and that the U.S. could take preemptive action against those people--and by "preemptive action," I mean killing them with a missile--that there was authorization to do that. In some cases, the president has actually pre-cleared the CIA to authorize these strikes without being directly notified.

But President Obama, my understanding from sources, you know, within the intelligence and military world, has really sort of micromanaged this process. And, you know, Brennan has been--Brennan is basically the hit man of this administration, except he never has to go out and do the hitting himself. He orders, you know, planes and missile strikes and AC-130 strikes to, you know, hit in Somalia, in Yemen, in Pakistan. You know, we're looking right now at a reality that President Obama has essentially extended the very policies that many of his supporters once opposed under President Bush. And I think it says something about the bankrupt nature of partisan politics in this country that the way we feel about life-or-death policies around the world is determined by who happens to be in office. I mean, that's--that, to me, is a very sobering reality.
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NAACP's Ben Jealous at Obama Inauguration: "Never Elect Someone to Make Change Happen For You" (21 January 2013) [DemocracyNow.org]
BENJAMIN JEALOUS: This is the place to be tonight. The challenge for our country was never to see the day when a person of color would be president. No, the challenge for our country was to ensure that it would be safe for it to happen again and again. We knew that it could be Condoleezza Rice. It could be Colin Powell. But we got Barack Obama. We got a man who is a product of a progressive movement. And as we stand here tonight ever so humble, reminiscing about ancestors who did not see this day, about people like Medgar Evers who gave their lives so we would see this day, let us walk out of here tonight talking to our children as a movement, as members of a movement that is triumphant.

I want you not to forget what happened last year or two years ago, when they said that we could never be where we are right now, when they tried to teach our children that the tea party was not a group of people who started a war for democracy against a king, but rather a group of people who started a war against democracy for would-be kings. And they said that we, organized people, would be run over by organized money. They said that we, organized people, would never turn out like we did in 2008. They said that they could attack women's rights, LGBT rights, students' rights, workers' rights, voting rights, and we would balkanize.

And then something funny happened on their way to victory. We came together like we've never come together before. They said that we couldn't pass marriage equality in one state on the ballot, and we won victories in all four states. They said that we could never save comprehensive immigration reform, and now Sean Hannity says that he supports it. They said that they were going to steal our democracy from us, and we took it back.

So here's the challenge. The challenge to us is to remember what we learned when we first entered this movement: that you never elect somebody to make change happen for you; you elect somebody to make it a little easier for your movement to keep on making change happen. And so, brothers and sisters, I implore you tonight, have a good time, party, rest well, and then get right back on the battlefield Tuesday morning, because we took our democracy back, and we ain't giving it up to nobody. Thank you, and God bless. Fired up! Fired up! Fired up! God bless you all.
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The President liberals were waiting for is (finally) here (21 January 2013)
Couched in rhetoric about the need to come together as a country was a strong -- and surprisingly pointed -- invocation of a laundry list of progressive principles: gay rights, voting rights, climate change and the inherent value of entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.

In addition to endorsing that progressive policy agenda, Obama also not-so-subtly criticized what he clearly believes is the hijacking of the Republican party by rank ideologues. "We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate," said Obama.

This was a speech that could only be given by someone who knew that he would never have to run for re-election again. (Compare Obama's rhetoric today with the inaugural speech he gave in 2009; they are very different addresses.) This was Obama unbound. Distill Obama's speech to a single sentence and that sentence is: "I'm the president, deal with it."

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Obama inaugural speech urges co-operation for social change (21 January 2013)
U.S. President Barack Obama used his inaugural address at the swearing-in for his second term in office to urge Americans to act together to solve issues facing the country.

"Now, more than ever, we must do these things as one nation, as one people," he said.

A generation of Americans has been tested, Obama said shortly after he took the oath of office with his hand on two bibles -- one used by President Abraham Lincoln and one used by Martin Luther King Jr.

"A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America's possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention.
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How we got MLK Day and Who Stood in the Way (SLIDESHOW) (21 January 2013)
Martin Luther King, Jr. famously fought long and hard for racial equality. So perhaps it's fitting that it took the efforts of several Americans more than 30 years to establish a holiday in his honor.

Here are some of MLK Day's most prominent champions and adversaries--including John McCain, Stevie Wonder, and Ronald Reagan.

[From the slideshow, text off to the right...]
1968: Four days after MLK is assassinated in Memphis, Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, introduces legislation in the House to establish a holiday in his honor.

1968: Sen. Edward Brooke (R-MA), the first African-American Senator elected by popular vote, introduces legislation to the Senate.

1969-1983: Conyers and Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D-NY) reintroduce legislation for a holiday in every single session of the House--for a total of 15 years.

1973: Illinois becomes the first state to authorize a statewide holiday (Massachusetts and Connecticut follow suit the next year). The legislation is sponsored by Harold Washington, the first African-American mayor of Chicago.
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India gang-rape suspects hide their faces at court appearance; trial starts Thursday (21 January 2013)
NEW DELHI--The trial of five men accused of the rape and murder of a student aboard a bus in New Delhi will begin Thursday and should have none of the long delays commonly associated with India's justice system, a defence lawyer said after a brief hearing Monday.

Judge Yogesh Khanna denied a defence motion to make the proceedings public, ruling that the courtroom must remain closed because of the sensitive nature of the crime, said V.K. Anand, the lawyer for one of the defendants, Ram Singh.

The extreme brutality of the attack has sparked weeks of protests and focused national and international attention on India's rarely discussed crisis of violence against women. Monday's hearing was the first since the case was moved to a new fast-track court set up to deal specifically with crimes against women.

The five defendants' faces were covered by woolen scarves as they arrived in the court, surrounded by a phalanx of police. A sixth suspect in the attack claims to be a juvenile and his case is being handled separately.
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Tomb savers: Will a mock-up of Tutankhamun's tomb pull in tourists? (VIDEO) (21 January 2013)
Egypt's Valley of the Kings is a popular tourist attraction, but years of visitors trekking around the old tombs of the pharaohs is causing these historic sites to deteriorate.

A an exact replica of Tutankhamun's tomb has now been created - but will tourists really want to travel to Egypt just to visit a mock-up? Rajan Datar reports.
[Read more...]

Martin Luther King Day card to readers

Evicted Norfolk eagle refuses to leave botanical garden (21 January 2013)
Three months after a large nest was removed from the Norfolk Botanical Garden, the male eagle that called it home has yet to move on.

Since the nest was removed in early October, the eagle has tried twice to rebuild a nest in trees at the garden. Each time, the nest has been removed, and an officer with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services Division has fired a paint ball gun near the eagle at least seven times since December in hopes of scaring him away.

Still, the eagle remains.

This is not unexpected, according to Scott Barras, state director for the wildlife division. The airport probably will pay the agency about $13,100 through the spring to disperse eagles from the garden.

Now that nesting season is well under way, the eagle has become more persistent in his efforts to build a new home, but no matter how hard he tries, he will not be allowed to nest anywhere at the garden, Barras said.
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Do Animals in Chernobyl's Fallout Zone Glow? (21 January 2013)
This is a unique ecosystem, twice the size of Rhode Island and about evenly divided between Belarus and Ukraine. A generation after most humans abandoned the area, forests and wetlands have consumed once-tended fields, villages, and towns. Only the occasional carcasses of crumbling buildings mutely testify to the former occupants.

Sachepok stuck another mushroom a foot higher on the tree. "That's for the roe deer. It's hard for them to find food under the snow." The late October day was still warm, but Ukraine's winters are frigid.

Few wild animals lived in the region in 1986; their habitats had been destroyed for Soviet dairy farms and pine plantations. But large mammals started appearing almost immediately after the evacuations, and the animal populations soon exploded.

Roe deer and wild boar caught here in the early 1990s packed more than 2,000 times the safety norms for cesium-137 in meat. Though internal radiation levels have since dropped dramatically, some animals recently tested in Belarus still exceeded safe levels by dozens of times.

But in a surprise to just about everyone, the animals all looked physically normal. The same was true of other species tested--radioactive but normal-looking. The few known exceptions include albino spots and some deformities in barn swallows.
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Investigators Pursue Unsolved Whooping Crane Case (21 January 2013)
(INDIANAPOLIS) - Indiana Conservation Officers and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are seeking public help in their ongoing investigation into the illegal killing of a whooping crane more than a year ago in Jackson County.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is encouraging anyone with information about the 2011 shooting to call its Turn in a Poacher program. Whooping cranes are protected by the Endangered Species Act and other federal and state laws. Officials have offered rewards totaling $7,500.

The whooping crane - known as "Bird 605" - was found Dec. 30, 2011, in southeastern Jackson County near Crothersville.

Investigators say X-rays show the bird suffered a fatal shotgun wound. The bird was part of an effort to establish a flock on a migratory path between Wisconsin and Florida. Whooping cranes are North America's largest birds, standing over 5 feet tall.
Investigators encourage anyone with information about the incident to contact Turn-IN-A-Poacher by calling 1-800-TIP-IDNR (1-800-847-4367).
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Dreamliner probe widens after excess battery voltage ruled out (21 January 2013)
(Reuters) - U.S. safety investigators on Sunday ruled out excess voltage as the cause of a battery fire this month on a Boeing Co 787 Dreamliner jet operated by Japan Airlines Co (JAL) and said they were expanding the probe to look at the battery's charger and the jet's auxiliary power unit.

Last week, governments across the world grounded the Dreamliner while Boeing halted deliveries after a problem with a lithium-ion battery on a second 787 plane, flown by All Nippon Airways Co (ANA), forced the aircraft to make an emergency landing in western Japan.

A growing number of investigators and Boeing executives are working around the clock to determine what caused the two incidents which the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration says released flammable chemicals and could have sparked a fire in the plane's electrical compartment.

There are still no clear answers about the root cause of the battery failures, but the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board's statement eliminated one possible answer that had been raised by Japanese investigators.
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Mega spectacle at launch of Kim Dotcom's new file-sharing site (20 January 2013)
The internet entrepeneur Kim Dotcom boasted on Sunday that his new file-sharing service, Mega, was the fastest-growing startup in internet history.

In a bravado-filled launch at his estate north of Auckland, the German-born entrepreneur ramped up his counterattack on US prosecutors who argue that the site's predecessor, Megaupload, was at the heart of a "mega conspiracy", a "worldwide criminal organisation" enabling the exchange of copyright material.

"I've never seen anything like this," Dotcom said at an event that was equal parts press conference, polemic and buffoonery. "I've done a bit of PR and got a bit of attention, that's certainly helped. But I never expected 250,000 user registrations in the first two hours -- I think it's unheard of. I don't know of any other startup that has had this kind of early success."

The site had more than a million visits in the first 14 hours, he said, with more than half a million registering for the service, which offers 50GB of free cloud-based data storage.
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REGION: Researchers explore benefits of vegetarian diet (17 January 2013)
New findings from a large-scale Loma Linda University study of the connection between diet and disease suggest a decrease in cancer for those who eschew meat, poultry and fish, adding to a long list of health benefits linked to a vegetarian diet.

The discovery from the Adventist Health Study-2, a decades-long investigation into the impact of lifestyle and diet on heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses among Seventh-day Adventists, is among the topics to be discussed at the upcoming International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition.

The event, held once every five years, is expected to draw nearly 1,000 researchers to Loma Linda University on Feb. 24-26.

"Professional interest in vegetarian nutrition has now reached unprecedented levels, but the knowledge regarding vegetarian diets and their impact on human life is far from complete," said Dr. Joan Sabate, Loma Linda University's nutrition department chairman who is organizing the conference.
[Read more...]

Sex is major reason military commanders are fired (20 January 2013)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, fired from his command in Afghanistan last May and now facing a court-martial on charges of sodomy, adultery and pornography and more, is just one in a long line of commanders whose careers were ended because of possible sexual misconduct.

Sex has proved to be the downfall of presidents, members of Congress and other notables. It's also among the chief reasons that senior military officers are fired.

At least 30 percent of military commanders fired over the past eight years lost their jobs because of sexually related offenses, including harassment, adultery, and improper relationships, according to statistics compiled by The Associated Press.

The figures bear out growing concerns by Defense Department and military leaders over declining ethical values among U.S. forces, and they highlight the pervasiveness of a problem that came into sharp relief because of the resignation of one of the Army's most esteemed generals, David Petraeus, and the investigation of a second general, John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.
[Read more...]

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Sources (if found on major news boards):
[AJ] - InfoWars.com, PrisonPlanet.com, or other Alex Jones-affiliated sites
[BF] - BuzzFlash.com
[DN] - DemocracyNow.org
[R] - Rense.com
[WRH] - WhatReallyHappened.com


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All original content including photographs © 2013 by Pam Rotella. (News excerpts copyright by their corresponding authors, news organizations, or other copyright holders, and quoted here typically as "fair use" or "teaser" paragraphs to generate interest in the full articles.)